A former Mormon church elder who sexually abused Northland girls as young as six has been sent to prison for 20 years.
James Brian Sanders, 68, was sentenced today in the Whangarei District Court.
Sanders was found guilty after a jury trial of 35 offences against 12 girls in two Northland communities, between 1998 and 2013.
Judge Duncan Harvey told Sanders he was a paedophile who had committed an appalling breach of trust, first as an elder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and then as a caregiver at an after-school programme.
He had raped a 12-year-old once, raped a 16-year-old up to five times, sexually violated a six-year-old and committed many other acts of indecency.
The judge said Sanders continued to maintain the preposterous position that he was innocent, and that the girls had lied and conspired against him.
He imposed a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.